Ego and Hero Separation

THE “MYTH OF PATRIARCHAL KINGSHIP” argues Edward C. Whitmont “engendered that particular form of ego consciousness we have come in our time to consider consciousness tout court. It is centered in a rationalizing, abstracting, and controlling I, ego.”[i] In other words, the Nature/Earth Landscape was objectified and rendered an ‘It’ and the ‘I’ of the ego became pivotal to the Anthropocentric Landscape focus of perception.

Whitmont argues that, while we now condemn this separation of Western humanity from its instinctive side, there was nevertheless a psychological need to tear loose from the Great Mother Goddess of Nature:

“For the sake of an independent sense of personality one had to heed the command of the one and only patriarchal “I am that I am”, and forget the powers of the encompassing unitary reality. These powers were the gods who are also animals, plants, stones, places and times. These were henceforth to be considered reasonless dumb creatures and inanimate, even dead matter. Humanity had to subdue the earth and make it serve the I.”[ii]

Jane Roberts (1929-1984), American writer and channeler of “Seth”, puts it this way “The ego … needed to feel its dominance and control, and so it imagined a dominant god apart from nature”.[iii] Concepts of God went hand-in-hand with the development of consciousness.[iv] The ancient Mother-Goddess concept would become “unconscious”.[v]

“God the Father would be recognized and the Earth Goddess forgotten. There would be feudal lords, therefore, not seeresses. Period. Man would believe he did indeed have dominion over the earth as a separate species, for God the Father had given it to him.”[vi]

This growth of ego consciousness set up both challenges and limitations.[vii] Roberts suggests that it would only be much later that the ego could expand, once sure of itself, and realize these limitations and become aware of realities it had earlier ignored.[viii]

The hero myth and hero archetypal image has long been associated with the struggle of ego separation from the Mother Archetype and the natural world, as Carl Jung, philosopher psychologist Erich Neumann (1905-1960), and others have pointed out at length. Neumann argues that “through the masculinization and emancipation of ego consciousness the ego becomes the ‘hero’: [ix]

“With the hero myth we enter upon a new phase of stadial development. A radical shift in the center of gravity has occurred. In all creation myths the dominant feature was the cosmic quality of the myth, its universality; but now the myth focuses attention upon the world as the center of the universe, the spot upon which man stands. This means, in terms of stadial development, not only that man’s ego consciousness has achieved independence, but that his total personality has detached itself from the natural context of the surrounding world and the unconscious… Thus the hero is the archetypal forerunner of mankind in general.”[x]

On the negative side, the hero is often associated with war. Whitmont describes the patriarchal ego as heroic. It can be seen in present and past wars. It is both the glory and the Achilles’ heel of the male ego and male national identity:

“The patriarchal ego is heroic. Its idealized achievement is conquest of self and world by sheer will and bravery. Personal feeling, desire, pain and pleasure are disregarded. Failure to do so is accounted weakness. The resulting psychological achievement is a sense of personal identity vested in a body-limited, separate self, answerable to the law of the group and God-king. Consciously, now it no longer feels organically contained in, or one with, group, world, or the divine. Unconsciously, however, it is still dominated by group values.”[xi]

The individuated ego of the individuated or higher self is the most advanced development of ego as hero. This is to be distinguished from the nascent ego and hero, which are engaged in separation and emancipation from the Mother and Mother Earth Archetype and which characterise the Anthropocentric Landscape.

Interestingly, analogies have been drawn with the Christ story as a paradigm of the individuated ego and hero and the Heavenly God-Father as a superego. Archetypal theorist Edward F. Edinger (1922-1998) has argued that the image of Christ gives a picture of the individuated ego which is conscious of being directed by the higher Self. He states:

“The Christian myth applies to a much higher level of ego development. Christ is both man and God. As man he goes to the cross with anguish but willingly, as part of his destiny. As God he willingly sacrifices himself for the benefit of mankind. Psychologically this means that the ego and the Self are simultaneously crucified.”[xii]

Needless to say however, the ‘Christ Hero’ depiction should not be confused with Christians and their actions in the name of Christianity; and while Christ has been argued to personify the individuated ego or hero, it is argued by theologian and analyst Donald Broadribb (1933-2012) that the moral function of the monotheistic Heavenly God-Father is best described as superego.

[i] Edward C. Whitmont (1982) Return of the Goddess, 79.
[ii] Edward C. Whitmont (1982) Return of the Goddess, 100.
[iii] Jane Roberts, The Unknown Reality, vol.1 (London: Prentice Hall International, Inc., 1977), 112.
[iv] Ibid, 142.
[v] Ibid, 141.
[vi] Ibid, 142.
[vii] Ibid, 269.
[viii] Ibid, 112-113.
[ix] Erich Neumann, The Origins and History of Consciousness (New York: Princeton University Press, Bollingen Series XLII, 1973), 127.
[x] Ibid, 131.
[xi] Edward C. Whitmont (1982) Return of the Goddess, 83.
[xii] Edward Edinger (1973) Ego and Archetype , 152.

Archetypes and Synchronicity

PAULI SHOWED THAT BENEATH MATTER, abstract pattern determines the behaviour of matter in a noncausal way.[i]

The ‘theory of synchronicity’ originally grew out of Jung’s psychotherapeutic experiences and his theory of archetypal symbols, as well as meanings in alchemy. While Jung had talked about “synchronicism’ as early as 1929, in particular with regard to Eastern philosophy and the I-Ching, it was thanks to the new quantum physics, particularly Heisenberg’s ‘principle of uncertainty’ and Pauli’s ‘exclusion principle’ that the theory could be expanded further with new scientific plausibility.[ii]

In collaboration with Pauli, Jung explored the question of hidden symmetry within the universe from the perspectives of both physics and psychology and published his ideas on synchronicity.[iii]

SYNCHRONICITY IS DESCRIBED variously as “the coincidence in time of two or more causally unrelated events which have the same or similar meaning” and “acausal parallelisms”.[iv] As with archetypes, essential to synchronicity is meaning.

Jung’s position was that while causal explanations of natural events, inherited from the modern scientific view, are valid for explaining much of what occurs in nature and experience, they are insufficient to explain all.[v] Phenomena exist which “cannot be explained causally unless one permits oneself the most fantastic ad hoc hypotheses”.[vi] As Cosgrove states:

“Jung’s position would find some agreement from scientific ‘realists’ and critics like Paul Feyerabend. Relativity theory indicates that space and time may be reduced to zero under certain conditions where, logically, linear causality becomes impossible. It collapses distinctions between being and becoming. Only an enduring unity, or an inexplicable discontinuity make sense under these conditions, description becomes purely contextual. To accept this unity may render us silent. But characteristically humans seek to create meaning and do so through metaphor. The metaphors of synchronicity are those of harmony and correspondence… This principle of meaning cannot be grasped through empirical observation or measurement, but rather apprehended phenomenologically, below the intellectual level of formal science.”[vii]

Charles Card has argued that if quantum mechanics led to a revolution in physics, it is a revolution not yet completed. There is the mystery of non-locality at its heart – in other words the phenomenon where measurements made at the microscopic level refute local realism and are independent of our description of how nature operates. This may entail deeper and more fundamental changes to our scientific weltbild, world view, than those already taken place. Card concludes that quantum non-locality “is the most dramatic indication of the possibility of archetypal order in quantum phenomena”.[viii]

Archetypal Holographic Universe

THE ‘HOLOGRAPHIC UNIVERSE’ idea, or holographic model, has also been suggested as a mechanism for explaining the existence of archetypes.[ix] Theoretical physicist David Bohm argues that behind the quantum lies an even deeper reality which he called the implicate order, which causes apparently random quantum processes to unfold as they do. The implicate order is “enfolded” in the explicate order or manifest reality detectable at the quantum level and the level of everyday experiences. Interestingly, de Quincey draws links between the theory of Bohm and Jung:

“Like Bohm, Carl Jung proposed that below the conscious mind lies the unconscious psyche, and that below causal matter lies the realm of indeterminate quantum events. Deeper still, below both the level of unconscious psyche and quantum events, lies the realm of a-causal archetypes. Jung called it the “unus mundus,” an indivisible continuum of “psychoid” events. (“Psychoid” means of the nature of both psyche and matter). The archetypes can never be known directly; they can only be inferred from their effects on the conscious psyche (eg. in dreams via the unconscious) and on material objects (eg. patterning of physical processes via quantum events).”[x]

Evidence from psychiatrist Stanislav Grof indicates that archetypal images can be modelled by the holographic idea; that holography’s success at modeling many different aspects of the archetypal experience suggests that there is a deep link between holographic processes and the way archetypes are produced; and that evidence of a hidden, holographic order surfaces virtually every time one experiences a nonordinary state of consciousness.[xi]

Holist physicist, philosopher and author F. David Peat, states that Pauli was fascinated with the idea that just as Jung had identified the objective element within the collective psyche, physics would have to come to terms with the subjective aspects of matter, which he termed “the irrational”.[xii] Pauli found this dualism between objective and subjective especially significant and indicative that there was a much deeper connection between mind and matter:

“Below the everyday appearances of matter, in which the scientist acts as an impartial observer, are encountered quantum processes in which observer and observed are intimately linked. Below this level, Heisenberg and others have hinted, there may no longer exist a fundamental ground of matter but, rather, fundamental symmetries and ordering principles.”[xiii]

At their deepest, the subjective layers of matter and the objective layers of the mind are hidden from direct perception. Their existence can only be inferred from their impacts at higher levels. It is possible that below quantum phenomena there is a new, nonmaterial level of symmetry. Could it be, asks Peat, that below the collective unconsciousness there is something beyond mind; “a fundamental dynamic ordering perhaps? … (whereby) … At such a level the division between mind and matter would no longer apply and the domain of creative ordering and objective intelligence would have their ground”.[xiv]

Recent support for Jung’s theory of archetypes has come from Christopher Isham, a theoretical physicist at Imperial College London, whose main research interests are quantum gravity and foundational studies in quantum theory. He has linked space and time and the development in quantum theory of the space-time continuum with progress in philosophical and psychological thought from Plato to Kant to Jung.[xv]

‘Emergence Theory’ which involves the shift away from materialist, mechanistic reductionism that has dominated the modernist scientific world view, towards mental causation which is not reducible to physical causation, also gives further support for archetypal theory.[xvi] Also, Christopher Hauke argues that while the writing of Jung and post-Jungians has been ignored as “anachronistic”, “archaic” and “mystic”, it is more relevant now than ever before. Not only is it a response to modernity, it offers a critique of modernity and Enlightenment values which brings it into line with postmodernism.[xvii] As has been shown, postmodernism is inherent to both quantum physics and archetypal epistemology

[i] Peat (1988) Synchronicity, 17.
[ii] Ibid, 22.
[iii] Ibid, 34.
[iv] Ibid, 23.
[v] Denis Cosgrove, ‘Environmental Thought and Action: Pre-modern and Post-modern’, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, vol. 15 (1990), 352.
[vi] Ibid, 352. Cf. C.G. Jung, Synchronicity – An Acausal Connecting Principle (Princeton, N.J., 1973).
[vii] Ibid.
[viii] Charles R. Card, ‘The Emergence of Archetypes in Present-Day Science and its Significance for a Contemporary Philosophy of Nature’, 14.
[ix] Michael Talbot, The Holographic Universe (London: Harper Collins Publishers, 1996).
[x] Christian de Quincey, ‘Deep Spirit: Quantum Consciousness?’, 5.
[xi] Talbot (1996) The Holographic Universe, 71; Cf. Stanislav Grof, Beyond the Brain (Albany, N.Y: State University of New York Press, 1985).
[xii] Peat, ‘Time, Synchronicity and Evolution’, 3. http://www.fdavidpeast.com/biography/essays/text/saur.txt.
[xiii] Peat (1988) Synchronicity, 103.
[xiv] Ibid, 104.
[xv] See Christopher Isham, ‘Space and Time at the Edge of Mind’, Royal College of Psychiatrists: http://www.repsych.ac.uk/college/specialinterestgroups/spirituality/publications/newsletter”/
[xvi] See Philip Clayton and Paul Davies, The Re-Emergence of Emergence – The Emergentist Hypothesis from Science to Religion (Oxford University Press, 2006).
[xvii] Christopher Hauke, Jung and the Postmodern – The Interpretation of Realities (Routledge, London, 2000).

God-Father Clash

THE TRANSCENDENCE OF the Western monotheistic Heavenly-God-Father Archetype over the universal Mother Earth Archetype was a clash of archetypes in history and it is a clash of archetypes which continues to this day.[i] This clash brought forth a new Anthropocentric Landscape.

It also brought forth a new concept of man (made in the image of the God-Father) and a new development in man’s psyche with his separation from the Mother Earth and the ascendance of the Ego and Hero components of the personality.

The clash between the transcendent God-Father and Mother Earth is seen in the anguish of indigenous peoples, in the subjugation of women and the exploitation of nature

It is evidenced in the conflicted psyches of individuals and in the historical warring of religious fundamentalist cultures and factions dominated by the archetype of a monotheistic God-Father who is exclusivist, jealous and warlike and who bestows his favours on ‘the chosen’.

Supplanting Mother

NO ONE KNOWS FOR SURE when men started to challenge the power of the Goddess and set about a long history of subjugation of women, desecration of temples, and destruction of those animals that had been sacred to her. The recorded appearance of god-worshipping males – variously called Indo-Europeans, Indo-Aryans, and Aryans – in the Middle East some 6,000 years ago suggests older beginnings since they are said to have come from north of the Caucasus.[ii]

Lithuanian-American archaeologist, Marija Gimbutas (1921-1994) suggests that it was the Indo-European incursion of warlike nomadic tribes, worshippers of the masculine sky gods, that replaced the matracentric cultures of Old Europe with an “autocratic warrior” society. They claimed for themselves the virtues of “civilization”. However prior to their conquest there had been a “civilization of the goddess” marked by peace and high art and under the spell of the original version of Gaia.[iii] The clash of archetypes is illustrated in epic myths, for example, Marduk, the great male deity, who ousts Ti’ amat from power and tears her body to shreds in order to construct a new world of warlords and patriarchal masters more to his liking:

“In the Book of Genesis (first millenium BC), a document that codifies in writing many strands of older oral traditions, the intent to suppress the Great Mother (Ishtar, Inanna, Ti’amat etc.) is very clear. Some practices of her cult are openly condemned as they clash with the monotheistic, male tradition of the Hebrews. Mostly they are omitted. An earlier version of the Genesis creation myth attributes a spirit of rebellion to the first woman, Lilith. In the later version, which we all know, Lilith is replaced by Eve (Gen. 1:26)… born of Adam’s rib and made submissive to him in another (Gen. 2:23) … (Thus) … Genesis presents the view that God created everything and gave it to man to dominate. The degrees of his domination range from benevolent stewardship, to conquest (Gen.1:28) and outright oppression.”[iv]

Heavenly God-Father

[i] What we are to talk about is not the multi-God archetypal concepts of the ‘Wisdom Stream’ Gnostics, mystics or heretics. For them God was a supra-gender, androgynous, universal pantheistic force to be explored and revealed within the psyche. Nor are we talking of the God Father archetypal concepts of the polytheistic pagans, primal peoples or early matriarchal religions. For them the Sky God Father is just one in a pantheon of equally powerful Gods. What we are talking about is the exclusivist Heavenly God-Father Archetype of the monotheistic, great Western orthodox religions of Judaism, Old Testament fundamentalist Christianity and Islam.
[ii] Andree Collard and Joyce Contrucci, Rape of the Wild – Man’s Violence Against Animals and the Earth (Indiana University Press, 1989), 15.
[iii] Theodore Roszak, The Voice of the Earth (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992), 236.
[iv] Collard and Contrucci (1992) Rape of the Wild, 16-17. Cf. Gen.1:28 which “presents the view that God created everything and gave it to man to dominate. The degrees of his domination range from benevolent stewardship, to conquest … and outright oppression”. (p.17).

The Celestial Earth – “subtle bodies of Light”

CORBIN DESCRIBES SOPHIA, the divine presence of wisdom for our world in an intermediate imaginal world – the Celestial Earth, as follows:

“Between the intellectual and the sensible… [is] a ‘spiritual corporeity’ which represents the Dwelling, the Divine Presence, for our world. This Dwelling is Wisdom itself, Sophia.”[i]

Sophia is “the imaginal place of the Divine Presence in our world”. Sophia as the Celestial Earth is typified in the Shi’ite gnosis by Fatima, “the Sophia of the Shi’ite theosophy and cosmology”.[ii] Thus Sophianity is for the human being to accede here and now to the Celestial Earth, to the world of Hurqalya, world of ‘celestial corporeity’, which is that of the subtle bodies of Light.[iii]

“the Soul of the Perceiver”

THE QUANTUM WORLD of nonmaterial symmetries and archetypes also requires new ways of envisioning the world, description and language.

The importance of the imagination and an inner non-physical reality behind our physical external world is understood by quantum physicists; in particular Wolfgang Pauli, F. David Peat and David Bohm.

Pauli argued that the psychologist and the physicist are engaged in a complimentary quest. Hence he advocated that the:

“[I]nvestigation of scientific knowledge directed outwards should be supplemented by an investigation of this knowledge directed inwards. The former process is directed to adjusting our knowledge to external objects; the latter should bring to light the archetypal images used in the creation of our scientific theories. Only by combining both these directions of research may complete understanding be obtained.”[iv]

Psychiatrist Anthony Stevens states: “The relationship between the physical world we perceive and our cognitive formulations concerning that world is predicated upon the fact that the soul of the perceiver and that which is recognised by perception are subject to an order thought to be objective.”[v]

Stevens notes that, for Pauli, “…the archetypes which order our perceptions and ideas are themselves the product of an objective order which transcends both the human mind and the external world.”[vi]

Inscape

FOLLOWING ON from Pauli, quantum physicist F. David Peat has also called for changes in our language which apply to both ‘inscape’ and ‘landscape’. This postmodern language draws upon metaphor, allusion, ambiguity and values:

“[T]here can be no single explanation, theory or level within nature. We must seek complementary descriptions rather than the single, all-embracing, complete and logically consistent rational accounts which attempt to answer all questions and close all doors. We must seek to engage nature using all the richness that is possible within human language, by drawing upon metaphor, allusion and ambiguity in order to create coherent yet complementary accounts… the science of inscape and landscape requires a degree of creativity within its language, including the ability to deal with metaphor and ambiguity and to accommodate the qualities and values of our experience.”[vii]

By ‘inscape’ Peat is referring to the authentic voice, or inner-dwellingness of things and our experience of them; hence he argues … “By inscape I wish to suggest the inexhaustible nature of each human being, tree, rock, star and atom, and that there is no most fundamental level, no all embracing account or law of a perception or encounter. Rather one attempts to engage in the inner authenticity of the world”.[viii]

This is the ‘I-Thou’ poesis of the artist and Sophianic Wisdom. As in the Sophia Wisdom Archetype, where there is no dualism, Peat questions the fragmentation within our current (modernist) worldview between inner and outer and “the desire for an objective science which has no room for values, qualities and the nature of subjective experience”.[ix]

Implicate Order

DAVID BOHM has argued similarly that there is “no fundamental distinction between the processes of the imagination and perception”.[x] Bohm distinguishes between primary imagination, creative imagination and reflexive imagination. Thus, “the reality which you perceive is affected by your thought. Thought is working as a kind of imagination being infused into your perception. It becomes part of what you see. And that imagination is necessary”.[xi] According to Talbot, Bohm uses the idea of implicate order to echo the idea that:

“Every action starts from an intention in the implicate order. The imagination is already the creation of the form; it already has the intention and the germs of all the movements needed to carry it out. And it affects the body and so on, so that as creation takes place in that way from the subtler levels of the implicate order, it goes through them until it manifests in the explicate.”[xii]

In other words, in the implicate order, imagination and reality are ultimately indistinguishable.

[i] Henry Corbin, ‘Towards a Chart of the Imaginal’, Temenos 1 (1981), 30.
[ii] Ibid, 31.
[iii] Ibid, 32-33.
[iv] Wolfgang Pauli, ‘The influence of archetypal ideas on the scientific theories of Kepler’ in: C.G. Jung and W. Pauli, The Interpretation of Nature and the Psyche (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1955), 208.
[v] See Anthony Stevens, Archetype – A Natural History of the Self (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1982), 74.
[vi] Anthony Stevens, ‘Thoughts on the Psychobiology of Religion and the Neurobiology of Archetypal Experience’, Zygon, v.21, no.1 (1986), 19.
[vii] F. David Peat, Synchronicity – The Bridge Between Matter and Mind (New York & London: Bantam Books, 1988), 6-7.
[viii] Ibid, 6.
[ix] Ibid.
[x] David Bohm, Thought as a System (London: Routledge, 1994), 151.
[xi] Ibid, 152.
[xii] Michael Talbot, The Holographic Universe (London: Harper Collins Publishers, 1996), 84.

Man is the New Trickster God

MAN IS THE NEW TRICKSTER GOD and he plays at the edges of mind and matter, super-nature and the supernatural. Davis argues:

“The powerful aura that today’s advanced technologies cast does not derive solely from their novelty or their mystifying complexity; it also derives from their literal realization of the virtual projects willed by the wizards and alchemists of an earlier age. Magic is technology’s unconscious, its own arational spell. Our modern technological world is not nature, but augmented nature, super-nature, and the more intensely we probe its mutant edge of mind and matter, the more our disenchanted productions will find themselves wrestling with the rhetoric of the supernatural.”[i]

Old phantasms and metaphysical longings have not simply disappeared. The New Jerusalem, the futuristic image of heaven on earth is the myth of progress – hence via reason, science and technology we can perfect ourselves and society. This is the “secular offspring of Christianity’s millennialist drive”.[ii] As Davis notes “Technology is neither a devil nor an angel. But neither is it simply a ‘tool’, a neutral extension of some rock-solid human nature. Technology is a trickster”.[iii]

Thus is man the sorcerer, techno-wizard, magus and string-pulling master behind technology – with its images of soul, redemption, the demonic, the magical, the transcendent, the hypnotic and the alive. This is the new Trickster God.

Supramorality and Amorality

THE NEW ‘MORALITY’ in the Technological/Materialist Landscape is embodied by the Trickster Archetype. The moral law of the Heavenly God-Father Archetype in the Anthropocentric Landscape is superseded by a supramorality and an amorality. As Anthony Stevens has pointed out, traditional patriarchal values of law and order, discipline, self-control, responsibility, courage, patriotism, loyalty, obligation, authority and command are now seen as inimical to freedom and creativity.[iv]

In this new landscape agonies are seldom felt for – obedience to the God-Father’s law, perfectionism, sin, shame, guilt, divine and/or final judgment, entrance to heaven or hell.

In fact many would light-heartedly profess to prefer hell as more interesting than the traditional view of heaven. The conventional morality of monotheistic religion and the Heavenly God-Father’s Church, Synagogue or Mosque is no longer unquestioned.

THE MATURE CORPORATE CULTURE exemplifies the pervasive Trickster Archetype, within the Technological/Materialist Landscape and the Trickster amorality and ‘religion’. This is despite tricky public relations which would have us believe that corporations behave morally. The corporate executive is often frank, playful and sometimes gleeful, showing a full cognisance of his duplicity and Tricksterish amorality. Joel Bakan illustrates Trickster amorality and ‘religion’:

“I’m sucking on Satan’s pecker” is how Chris Hooper, a highly successful television ad director and voice-over artist, describes his work for the likes of McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, and other major corporations. Hooper says his job is to create “images that are trying to sell products to people that they don’t really need” which “encourage very sophomoric behavior, irresponsible, hedonistic, egotistical, narcissistic behavior.”[v]

Steve Kline, a communications expert who specializes in children’s culture states: “We are ‘producing kids as consumers’ … and becoming less good at creating ‘competent citizens…good, moral and virtuous human beings’.”[vi] And Marc Barry, who has worked for a quarter of the Fortune 500 companies and is a corporate competitive intelligence expert, self-described as “Essentially I am a spy” – comments that “There’s so much trickery and deception in my job that I don’t really want it in my private life”:

At work, Barry says, he is a predator engaged in morally dubious tasks. Corporations hire him to get information from other corporations: trade secrets, marketing plans, or whatever else might be useful to them. In his work, he lies, deceives, exploits, and cheats… For Barry, a regular day at the office is filled with venal actions and moral turpitude.[vii]

Anita roddick, the late founder of the Body Shop, shares the view that the corporate world is amoral and a “religion of maximizing profits. However, Roddick fought it and regretted it:

Roddick blames the “religion of maximizing profits” for business’s amorality, for forcing otherwise decent people to do indecent things: “Because it has to maximize its profits… everything is legitimate in the pursuit of that goal, everything… So using child labor or sweatshop labor or despoiling the environment… is legitimate in the maximizing of profit.[viii]

Robert Hare points out that executives acting as corporate operatives display many attitudes and actions which can be characterized as psychopathic.[ix] It goes without saying that the psychopathic characteristics of the corporation and its executives are also the worst, amoral characteristics of the Trickster.

A pragmatic, human-based morality, rather than a purportedly ‘divinely’ inspired law, guides man and woman in the Technological/Materialist Landscape. Where individuals do operate on a principled, altruistic, selfless level of moral development, it is because they choose this level of operation, not because they are compelled to by an external religious authority decreeing it.

Thus is ‘man’ finally superman and his/her morality, for better or worse, is often a supramorality and an amorality founded on individual freedom and creativity.

Personas and Masks – “We are what we Consume”

SEEMING-OVER-BEING; personas, masks, play, simulation, stimulation, entertainment, consumption, sensation, power, manipulation, trickery and the World of I-It are all features of the Trickster Archetype and the Technological/Materialist Landscape and characterise a supramorality and an amorality.

As a case in point ‘Seeming over being’ is found in the phenomenon of marketing over talent. Marketing, advertising and consumption are characteristic of the corporate Technological/Materialist Landscape. They affect the individual’s sense of self – and one could argue morality and spirituality – which becomes Trickster-like and fluid according to the products consumed. As Robert Sack notes:

“We consumers, and the commodities and places we consume, are major forces shaping modern landscape”.”[x]

Furthermore, as “places become ‘consumed’, they lose much of their former uniqueness. Commercialization makes them appear like other places”.[xi]

Sense of self is appealed to more and more through advertising, marketing and acts of consumption. People are presented with the power of the product to help them distinguish themselves from others. Advertisements segment the sense of self: “A multitude of products can represent the entire self or even its tiniest part”.[xii]

Advertising enables the individual, through their consumption of products, to create personas and masks: We are what we consume. Sack argues that consumption, as a symbolic system, is most like old fashioned magic and ritual. “Both advertising and magic/ritual impute powers to objects. Both claim these powers can be tapped by individuals if they are undertaking prescribed actions”.[xiii] Magic and power is the realm of the Trickster, thus:

“Consumption undoes contexts to create contexts, undoes social relations to create social relations, and undoes meaning to create meaning. The segmentation of context and the isolation of self makes the complex and personal experiences and meanings of modern life difficult to share.”[xiv]

The consumer becomes the consumed. The self is manipulated by the products consumed for stimulation, simulation, sensation and entertainment. Personas, masks, play, ‘seeming over being’ may be fun for a while but can lead to skepticism and are often curiously unsatisfying in the end. Superficiality, alienation and fragmentation of self are the downside.

Corporations use “branding” or personas “to create unique and attractive personalities for themselves”.[xv] They may even claim to have a ‘soul’. Again, there is evidence with corporate life of ‘magic’, transformation, seeming, personifications or personas, artificial bonding and the scope for sleight of hand, manipulation of consumers, employees and regulators. These are all characteristics of the Trickster. As for advertising, Sack argues:

“Its rhetoric of indirection, its capacity for change, its brevity, its ability to make a pattern when absolutely none existed before, all help to make advertising applicable to anything, even to things such as conservation and gay liberation, that are not strictly items of the market place. But once it embraces these issues, advertising’s structure transforms their meanings. They too become like commodities; they too become segmented and abstracted from context. As advertising works, it creates its own skepticism. Many know that the claims of ads are not really true.”[xvi]

This underside crisis of meaning and loss of identity is not just a characteristic of the world of consumption, marketing and advertising, in short the materialist landscape; it is also a characteristic of the technological landscape. Michael Heim notes sadly:

“We begin as voyeurs and end by abandoning our identity to the fascinating systems we tend. The tasks beckoning us to the network make us forget our elemental loss in the process… So entrancing are these symbols that we forget ourselves, forget where we are. We forget ourselves as we evolve into our fabricated worlds.”[xvii]

[i] Davis (1999) Techgnosis, 38.
[ii] Ibid, 22.
[iii] Ibid, 9.
[iv] Stevens (1982) Archetype, 121.
[v] Joel Bakan (2004) The Corporation, 125-126.
[vi] Ibid, 127.
[vii] Ibid, 53-54.
[viii] Ibid, 35.
[ix] Ibid, 56-57 Note: a definition of “psychopathic” is an antisocial personality characterised by the failure to develop any sense of moral responsibility and the capability of performing violent or antisocial acts.
[x] Robert D. Sack, ‘The Consumer’s World: Place as Context’, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, vol.78 (1988), 659.
[xi] Ibid, 661.
[xii] Ibid, 657.
[xiii] Ibid, 659.
[xiv] Ibid, 658.
[xv] Bakan (2004) The Corporation, 26.
[xvi] Sack (1988) ‘The Consumer’s World’, 659.
[xvii] Michael Heim, The Metaphysics of Virtual Reality (Oxford University Press, 1993), 79-80.

Inner Spirituality

WHILE TWENTIETH CENTURY behavioural psychology denies the existence of spirituality, soul and even consciousness, in line with scientific positivism,[i] there is a long historical tradition of locating spirituality or ‘God’ within the individual, in both psychology and religion – hence Jungian depth and archetypal psychology, world mythology, Gnosticism, Buddhism, Western and Eastern mysticism and the ancient primal and polytheistic religions of the world.

Depth and archetypal psychology maintain the idea of spirituality as being inner, inherent in the mind, or intrinsic to the psyche or soul. The Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung (1875-1961), one of the greatest explorers of the human mind and a life-long student of world religions, both historical and cultural – is more than any other Western thinker in recent times associated with the search for inner spirituality. His thinking spans both modernism and postmodernism. English writer and broadcaster J.B Priestly (1894-1984), wrote of Jung in the Sunday Telegraph:

“He was on a giant scale…he was a master physician of the soul in his insights, a profound sage in his conclusions. He is also one of Western Man’s great liberators.”[ii]

Perceiving ‘spirituality as intrinsic to the psyche’ is both a recent phenomenon as well as having its roots in antiquity. However it has never been a mainstream focus of religion in the monotheistic West – and it is outside the orthodox religious establishments that it is again being seriously considered. Donald Broadribb argues that ‘God’ is increasingly being seen in terms of inner experience and process.

“In line with the more introverted religious philosophies of the East to which many Westerners are turning, “God” has come to be understood more and more as an inner experience and less and less as an identifiable “object” existing apart from the individual.”[iii]

Both Jung and the Gnostics of the early Christian period saw spirituality as an intrinsic property of the psyche. Self-exploration at the deepest levels, both believed, leads to spiritual wakening. In fact, “a true spiritual experience may be one of the most basic drives in the psyche, and may even be an essential psychological need.”[iv] Curtis Smith summarises Jung’s view that “the human position is supreme, with the psyche and its realization serving as the basis of religious meaning.”[v] To realise the psyche is to realise one’s interconnectedness with all things:

“At the farthest reaches of the self-realization process the boundary between psyche and world blurs to the point of extinction, so that rather than an impenetrable wall separating psyche and world, psyche and world appear as points on a continuum, forming an indivisible whole. For Jung, therefore human existence is simultaneously universal and particular… to realize the self is to realize one’s interconnectedness with all things.”[vi]

For Jung all religious experience is psychic in origin. While he is arguably the twentieth century’s greatest thinker on religion and spirituality as grounded in the psyche, and hence of depth or imaginative psychology, he is not the only thinker to link spirituality with the psyche. Even Freud (1856-1939), who made a devastating critique of religion on the “manifest” level as illusion, was on the “latent” level preoccupied with religion as mystery deep within the psyche.[vii]

THE INTERIOR JOURNEY into the depths of the psyche in search for the ground of all being, is inherent to both mysticism and depth psychology. Even within the Western monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, which were not originally mystical, there are schools of thought and prominent individuals who have emphasised the subjective experience. ‘God’ and the Pleroma (representing a map of the soul) were not external realities ‘out there’ but were to be found within. Karen Armstrong, for example, points out that the Gnostics “showed that many of the new converts to Christianity were not satisfied with the traditional idea of God which they had inherited from Judaism.”[viii] Hippolytus in the Heresies admonishes:

“Abandon the search for God and the creation and other matters of a similar sort. Look for him by taking yourself as the starting point. Learn who it is within you makes everything his own and says, My God, my mind, my thought, my soul, my body. Learn the sources of sorrow, joy, love, hate. Learn how it happens that one watches without willing, loves without willing. If you carefully investigate these matters, you will find him in yourself.”[ix]

By concentrating on the divine energy within, rather than the nature of an external God outside, the mystic was better able to ‘untie the knots’ within the psyche and take ownership of personal ‘evil’, or the unrealised shadowside which conflicts with the ego, as Jung defined it. This was rather similar to the psychoanalytic attempt to unlock complexes which impede mental health and fulfilled living. Karen Armstrong, theologian and a former nun, argues:

“One of the problems of ethical monotheism is that it isolates evil. Because we cannot accept the idea that there is evil in our God, there is a danger that we will not be able to endure it within ourselves. It can then be pushed away and made monstrous and inhuman. The terrifying image of Satan in Western Christendom was such a distorted projection.”[x]

It is not hard to see that the mystic was often at odds with the certainties of mainstream and more dogmatic forms of religion. Since each individual had “had a unique experience of God, it followed that no one religion could express the whole of the divine mystery”.[xi] Donald Broadribb makes the point that:

“Judaism, Christianity and Islam in their main streams have at times during their history persecuted union mystics as heretics who deny the essential division between humanity and God, reserving the possible full union of human and divine for only one person (Jesus, in Christianity) or denying it altogether (as in Judaism and Islam).”[xii]

MYTHOLOGY which is a feature of primal religions, the pagan and the early matriarchal religions, has often been an attempt to explain the inner world of the psyche. However as Armstrong points out, the Gods and Goddesses of the myths were regarded as heathen, inferior and a challenge to the supremacy of the monotheistic God of the prophets of Israel:

“The prophets had declared war on mythology: their God was active in history and in current political events rather than in the primordial sacred time of myth.”[xiii]

Mythology was reasserted however when some monotheists turned to mysticism. Inadvertantly or not, the mystics reissued the challenge to the supremacy of a monotheistic God idealised in dogmatic and politically orientated religious traditions. The mystical experience of “God” has characteristics common to all faiths and hence it tends to pull down the barriers separating religions. Armstrong further describes the mystical experience as being subjective, involving an interior journey.

“[It is] not a perception of an objective fact outside the self: it is undertaken through the image-making part of the mind – often called the imagination – rather than through the more cerebral, logical faculty. Finally, it is something that the mystic creates in himself or herself deliberately: certain physical or mental exercises yield the final vision; it does not always come upon them unawares.”[xiv]

Both Freud and Jung turned to the myths of the ancients to explain the inner world of the psyche and the unconscious.

The American Joseph Campbell’s (1904-1987) work in the study of world comparative mythology and comparative religion, also has strong affinities with Jung and depth psychology. As Armstrong points out, the current enthusiasm for psychoanalysis in the West can be seen as a desire for some kind of mysticism because there are arresting similarities between the two disciplines.[xv]

[i] Behaviourism is a school of psychology that regards objective observable aspects of the behaviour of organisms as the only valid subject of study; cf. Collins English Dictionary, eds., Hanks, P., Long, T.H., Urdang, L. (London: Collins, 1977),132. See also; A Dictionary of Philosophy, eds., Speake, J., Isaacs, A. (London: Pan Books, 1979), 37; The Oxford Companion to the Mind, ed., Richard L. Gregory (Oxford University Press, 1987), 71-74 ; The Oxford Companion to Philosophy, ed., Ted Honderich (Oxford University Press, 1995), 81-2.

[ii] J.B. Priestly, Sunday Telegraph. See review C.G. Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections (Great Britain: Fount Paperbacks, 1977. First published, 1961)

[iii] Donald Broadribb, The Mystical Chorus – Jung and the Religious Dimension (Australia: Millenium Books, 1995), 127.

[iv] John Pennachio, ‘Gnostic Illumination and Carl Jung’s Individuation’, Journal of Religion and Health v.31, no.3, Fall (1992), 245.

[v] Curtis D. Smith, ‘Psychological Ultimacy: Jung and the Human Basis of Religious Meaning’, Religious Humanism v.25, no.4 (1991), 174.

[vi] Ibid, 178.

[vii] R. Melvin Keiser, ‘Postcritical Religion and the Latent Freud’, Zygon v.25. no.4 (1990), 433.

[viii] Karen Armstrong, A History of God (London: Mandarin Paperbacks, 1994), 115.

[ix] Hippolytus, Heresies 8.15. 1-2 as cited in Armstrong, Ibid, 114.

[x] Karen Armstrong (1994) A History of God, 287.

[xi] Ibid, 275.

[xii] Donald Broadribb (1995) The Mystical Chorus,122.

[xiii] Karen Armstrong (1994) A History of God, 244.

[xiv] Ibid, 253.

[xv] Ibid, 245.

Sophia and Quantum Physics

THE ANCIENT DESCRIPTIONS which point to Sophia as Anima Mundi/World Soul – hence “wisdom that lies hidden or bound within matter”; “the reconciliation of nature and spirit”; “the pre-terrestrial vision of the celestial world” – have strong similarities with the descriptions made by quantum physicists about the quantum realities behind and within matter, the world and the universe.

Quantum physicists describe symmetries and archetypes beyond matter and enfolded in the material world. They speak of wholeness of matter and mind at the quantum level and nonlocal space-time. They describe consciousness within matter; active information directing matter. They talk of archetypes, acausal orderedness, as a basis for science, and quantums of information applicable to both mind and matter.

Some quantum physicists have explicitly acknowledged a return to the concept of Anima Mundi/World Soul with the discovery in science of quantum phenomena.

Shortly before his death Werner Heisenberg argued that what is fundamental in nature is not particles but the symmetries which lie beyond them. These symmetries can be thought of as the archetypes of all matter and the ground of material existence.[i]

Bohr’s theoretical physics emphasis on wholeness and the nonlocal nature of spacetime is compatible with Sophianic Anima Mundi/World Soul. This deeper nonlocal order has been found to be essential to thought processes. Here mind and matter appear to have something in common. “Indeed this leads to the general proposal that mind and matter are not separate and distinct substances but that like light and radio waves they are orders that lie within a common spectrum”.[ii]

Bohm’s theory that quantum processes could be interpreted as having what could almost be called a “mental” side – is also in accord with Sophianic Anima Mundi/World Soul – whereby active information has a directing effect on quantum processes, playing a formative role in unfolding the elementary particles out of their grounding quantum field.[iii]

Carl Friedrich Von Weizsacker is one who argued for the re-emergence of the World Soul motif on the basis that, indeed, quantum theory is to be understood as a theory of information – a holism that encompasses all that exists in both the realms of mind and matter:

“In his recent discussion of implications of his theory of ur-alternatives, von Weizsacker has drawn attention to the possibility for the re-emergence of the World Soul: he has argued that if quantum theory may be understood to be a theory of information, then it applies to information about mental events as well as physical events. According to the ur theory, res cognitans and res extensa must then enter into appearance together, and thus Cartesian dualism is theoretically strictly refuted. The consequence of this is a holism that encompasses all that exists in both the realms of mind and of matter that brings forth the question of the possibility of a World Soul.”[iv]

Sophia World Soul – Celestial Light 

JUNG WAS EXPLORING along similar lines to the quantum physicists when he introduced the idea of a psychoid archetype (unus mundus) which he said contains both mind and matter and yet goes beyond them both. Jung coined the term ‘psychoid unconscious’ to account for the unitary nature of psyche and world.[v] It is rooted in the unconscious, rather than being unified by an external metaphysical being or reality.

More precisely, “the ‘psychoid unconscious’ can be considered a further gradation of the unconscious where self and world meet, and where all opposites are reconciled”.[vi] The Anima Mundi/World Soul is very similar to the psychoid archetype or unus mundus.

The physicist Wolfgang Pauli took up Jung’s psychoid archetype because he saw it as a major contribution to understanding the ‘laws’ of nature:

“For Pauli, the psychoid archetype represented a sort of ‘missing link’ between the world which is the legitimate study of science, and the mind of the scientist who studies it. Jung’s postulate was not just ‘the bridge to matter in general’ but to ‘a cosmic order independent of our choice and distinct from the world of phenomena’.”[vii]

Sophianic Wisdom and individuation, as we have seen, are closely identified, if not identical. Individuation, to embrace the whole, both the known and the unknown in oneself, is also associated with Anima Mundi/World Soul and Jung’s psychoid archetype, or unus mundus.

In alchemy Sophia is associated with the evolution of one’s conscious. This transformation process is individuation.Sophia is here associated with symbols which express the depths of the self, psyche and soul in the world, where body becomes spirit and spirit becomes body.

One of these symbols is of Sophia as a Tree, another is of Sophia as Salt.[viii] Light, lightning, illumination, shining, gold, ‘incarnated light’, are also associated with Sophianic Wisdom and individuation; where body becomes spirit and spirit body, where heaven and earth are connected in the depths of self, psyche and soul in the World, World Soul.[ix]

Henry Corbin describes Sophianity from Mazdean to Shi’ite Iran, as “for the human being to accede here and now to the Celestial Earth, to the world of Hurqalya, world of ‘celestial corporeity’, which is that of the subtle bodies of Light”.[x]

In a strikingly similar description, scientist Darryl Reanney also writes of light and consciousness. Reanney points out that those rare moments when consciousness breaks free of ego are described as “moments of illumination”; the “inbreaking of light” and “the metaphor of consciousness as a light-bringing agent is widespread in all mystical literature”.[xi]

Individuation is a breaking free of ego consciousness into a realisation of Anima Mundi/World Soul: “Individuation does not shut one out from the world, but gathers the world to one’s self”.[xii] Individuation here is self-realisation which involves the psychoid archetype – unus mundus – in other words, Anima Mundi/World Soul.

The enfolded and implicate in Anima Mundi/World Soul becomes unfolded and explicit. Individuation becomes the self-realisation of the psychoid archetype. Whitmont describes it this way:

“The new Aquarian view, ushered in by twentieth-century physics, no longer thinks in terms of discrete objects; rather it conceives of a continuous flux of process, vibrational fields, quantum pulses of an undefinable, nonmaterial substratum. This is a universal consciousness, perhaps, yet prior to what we call consciousness. Prior to energy and matter, it results in both. It is a self-directed flow that gives form. The dynamics of our world, in the view of the modern myth, do not flow from a maker or director outside of it, who manipulates it like an object. The world is inner or self-directed, an immanense groping for self-realization in the three dimensions of space, and in the fourth dimension of time as well. Consciousness and conscience now discover self-direction. They find themselves in relation to the newly emerging Feminine – the Yin – as inner-directed awareness, with its growing transformative aspect – time.”[xiii]

This is a description of the new, yet at the same time ancient, Sophia Anima Mundi/World Soul Archetype.

Archetypal Philosopher James Hillman maintains that we need “an aesthetic response to the world. This response ties the individual soul immediately with the world soul”; indeed they are inseparable as “(a)ny alteration in the human psyche resonates with a change in the psyche of the world”.[xiv] The return of the Anima Mundi/World Soul should therefore be a therapeutic goal both for the individual and the world.

Geographer Peter Bishop influenced by archetypal psychology, maintains that the study of a country or a place and its people should be a task that contributes “towards the return of soul to the world, to an anima mundi psychology”.[xv]While there has been a long tradition of locating the psyche somehow within both the individual and the world, this has been lost in recent centuries. However, as Hillman warns, “the more we concentrate on literalizing interiority within my person the more we lose the sense of soul as a psychic reality… within all things”.[xvi]

In his study of Tibet, for example, Bishop found that the place had a logic and coherence of its own, its genius loci: it was not a ‘silent other’ but alive, substantial and compelling. “It was part of the world calling attention to itself, deepening our soulful appreciation of mountains, of deserts and rivers, of light and colour, of time and space, of myriad peoples and their cultures, of fauna and flora, of the plurality of imaginative possibilities”.[xvii]  

This is an instance of a return of perception of Anima Mundi/World Soul; and a return of the Sophianic Wisdom Archetype. In short, spirituality is to be sought in individuation, the opening up to the unus mundus; or in other words the Sophianic Anima Mundi, World Soul. This deep realisation of Self lies at the heart of all religious intimations of the essential oneness of life.

[i] F. David Peat, Synchronicity — The Bridge between Matter and Mind (N.Y & London: Bantam Books, 1988), 94.
[ii] Ibid, 185-186.
[iii] Ibid, 186-187.
[iv] Charles R. Card, ‘The Emergence of Archetypes in Present-Day Science and its Significance for Contemporary Philosophy of Nature’, Dynamical Psychology (1996), 26-27.
[v] C.G. Jung, ‘Mysterium Conjunctions’ in: The Collected Works, vol.14, para. 552.
[vi] Curtis D. Smith, ‘Psychological Ultimacy: Jung and the Human Basis of Religious Meaning’, Religious Humanism, vol.25: 4 (1991), 177.
[vii] Stevens (1982) Archetype, 74.
[viii] Damiani (1998) Sophia: Exile and Return, 76-77.
[ix] See Titus Burckhardt, Alchemy: Science of the Cosmos, Science of the Soul. (London: Stuart & Watkins, 1967), 82-83.
[x] Henry Corbin (1981) ‘Towards a Chart of the Imaginal’, 32-33.
[xi] Darryl Reanney(1991) The Death of Forever – A New Future for Human Consciousness, 220.
[xii] C.G. Jung, ‘The Structures and Dynamics of the Psyche’ in: The Collected Works, vol. 8, para, 226.
[xiii] Whitmont (1982) The Return of the Goddess, 221.
[xiv] Hillman, ‘Anima Mundi – The Return of the Soul to the World’ , Spring: An Annual of Archetypal Psychology and Jungian Thought ( 1982),79.
[xv] Peter Bishop, The Myth of Shangri-La – Tibet, Travel Writing and the Western Creation of Sacred Landscape (University of California Press, 1989), 251.
[xvi] Ibid.
[xvii] Ibid.

Techno-Wizardary – the Tricksters’ Playground

IRONICALLY, WHILE THE IMAGE of technology is secular, it rests on Christian myths, as Davis points out:

“[T]his secular image was framed all along by Christian myths: the biblical call to conquer nature, the Protestant work ethic, and, in particular, the millennialist vision of a New Jerusalem, the earthly paradise that the Book of Revelation claims will crown the course of history. Despite a century of Hiroshimas, Bhopals, and Chernobyls, this myth of an engineered utopia still propels the ideology of technological progress, with its perennial promises of freedom, prosperity, and release from disease and want.”[i]

The old image of technology for well over a century was industrial. Lewis Mumford called it the “myth of the Machine” and, as Davis points out, it rested on “the authority of technical and scientific elites, and in the intrinsic value of efficiency, control, unrestrained technological development, and economic expansion”.[ii]

The new image of technology is less mechanised and described in the mythology of information, electronic minds cloud computing, infinite databases, computerized forecasting, hypertext libraries, virtual realities, micro-chip engineering, artificial intelligence, bio-engineering, and global internet and telecommunication networking.   Hence:

“Boundaries dissolve, and we drift into the no-man’s zones between synthetic and organic life, between actual and virtual environments, between local communities and global flows of goods, information, labour, and capital. With pills modifying personality, machines modifying bodies, and synthetic pleasures and net-worked minds engineering a more fluid and invented sense of self, the boundaries of our identities are mutating as well. The horizon melts into a limitless question mark, and like the cartographers of old, we glimpse yawning monstrosities and mind-forged utopias beyond the edges of our paltry and provisional maps.”[iii]

The playground of the Trickster is new technology. Erik Davis argues:

“Of all the godforms that haunt the Greek mind, Hermes is the one who would feel most at home in our wired world. Indeed, with his mischievous combination of speed, trickery, and profitable mediation, he can almost be seen as the archaic mascot of the information age… He flies “as fleet as thought”, an image of the daylight mind, with its plans and synaptic leaps, its chatter and overload. Hermes shows that these minds are not islands, but nodes in an immense electric tangle of words, images, songs, and signals. Hermes rules the transtemporal world of information exchange.”[iv]

“A Host of Guises”

TRICKSTER IS MASTER of the persona and masks. His ego is fluid. He is both hero and anti-hero. Davis states:

“More than mere delivery boy, Hermes wears a host of guises; con artist, herald, inventor, merchant, magus, thief… Lord of the lucky find, Hermes crafts opportunity like those brash start-up companies that fill a market niche by creating it in the first place.”[v]

The Greeks were quite clear about it – Hermes is a thief. However the Trickster’s banditry is not based on raw power. He is no mugger or thug. Hermes is the hacker, the spy and the mastermind. He is executor of the slickest legal contracts.[vi]

[i] Erik Davis (1999) Techgnosis, 3.
[ii] Ibid, 3.
[iii] Ibid, 1.
[iv] Ibid, 14.
[v] Ibid, 14-15.
[vi] Ibid, 15.

Trickster Hero

THE HERO AND EGO are more developed in the Trickster than in the Anthropocentric Landscape of the Heavenly God-Father Archetype.

While the hero myths vary enormously in detail, structurally they are very similar. There is a universal pattern even although the myths were developed by groups or individuals without direct cultural contact.   

The special function of the hero myth is the development of the individual’s ego consciousness and his exploration and coming to awareness of his own strengths and weaknesses, which equips him for later challenges of life.[i]   Joseph L. Henderson argues:

“Over and over again one hears a tale describing a hero’s miraculous but humble birth, his early proof of superhuman strength, his rapid rise to prominence or power, his triumphant struggle with the forces of evil, his fallibility to the sin of pride (hybris), and his fall through betrayal or a “heroic” sacrifice that ends in his death.”[ii]

Erich Neumann states “The hero is always a light-bringer and emissary of light … The hero’s victory brings with it a new spiritual status, a new knowledge, and an alteration of consciousness”: the heroic age is characterised as the “predominance of individual personality”.[iii] All are characteristics of the Trickster Hero.

The heroic culminates in the Technological/Materialist Landscape in the development of science and the world as object:[iv]

“The activity of masculine consciousness is heroic in so far as it voluntarily takes upon itself the archetypal struggle with the dragon of the unconscious and carries it to successful conclusion… The correlation of consciousness with masculinity culminates in the development of science, as an attempt by the masculine spirit to emancipate itself from the power of the unconscious. Wherever science appears it breaks up the original character of the world, which was filled with unconscious projections. Thus, stripped of projection, the world becomes objective, a scientific construction of the mind.”[v]

THE TRICKSTER HERO PITS HIMSELF AGAINST THE OLD GOD. Neumann maintains that in the modern world the disintegration of the old system of values is in full swing.[vi] In the modern world the hero with his human ego pits himself against the old deity. Thus:

“the hero ceases to be instrument of the gods and begins to play his own independent part as a human being; and when he finally becomes, in modern man a battleground for suprapersonal forces, where the human ego pits itself against the deity. As breaker of the old law, man becomes the opponent of the old system and the bringer of the new, which he confers upon mankind against the will of the old deity.”[vii]

[i] Carl Jung (ed.), Man and His Symbols (London: Picador, Pan Books, 1978).
[ii] Joseph L. Henderson, ‘Ancient Myths and Modern Man’ in: Carl Jung (ed.),  Man and His Symbols, 101.
[iii] Erich Neumann, The Origins and History of Consciousness (New York: Princeton University Press,  Bollingen Series XLII, 1973), 160-161.
[iv] Ibid, 340-341.
[v] Ibid, 340-341.
[vi] Ibid, 390.
[vii] Ibid, 177.

“Trickster God is Universal”

THE TRICKSTER ARCHETYPE – or Trickster God, otherwise known in the West as the Greek God Hermes – is universal. Trickster is found in the mythologies of many peoples. Like Hecate – whose cult probably spread from Anatolia into Greece and who is associated with Hermes – Trickster is the quintessential master of boundaries and transitions. He brings both good luck and bad, both profit and loss. He is the patron of both travellers and thieves. Like Hecate, Trickster is the guide of souls to the underworld and the messenger of the gods. He surprises mundane reality with the unexpected and miraculous. In traditional primal cultures, Trickster emerges under the dominance of the Earth Mother.[i] Combs and Holland point out:

“The trickster god is universal. He is known to the Native American peoples as Ictinike, Coyote, Rabbit and others; he is Maui to the Polynesian Islanders; Loki to the old Germanic tribes of Europe; and Krishna in the sacred mythology of India. Best known to most of us in the West is the Greek god Hermes, who represents the most comprehensive and sophisticated manifestation of the Trickster.”[ii]

However, the Trickster God is not confined just to traditional primal cultures – today he is well and truly at home in the Technological/Materialist Landscape.

Trickster is at Home Today

AS JUNG STATES, the Trickster appears par excellence in modern man:

“He is a forerunner of the saviour, and like him, God, man, and animal at once. He is both subhuman and superhuman, a bestial and divine beingwhose chief and most alarming characteristic is his unconscious.”[iii]

While Hermes the Greek God is not reducible to the Trickster; in the West, the Trickster is frequently associated with Hermes – for example ‘Trickster Hermes’ and ‘Hermes the Trickster’. Combs and Holland argue that the Trickster God is universal:

“Best known to us in the West is the Greek God Hermes, who represents the most comprehensive and sophisticated manifestation of the Trickster.”[iv]

The Trickster, like Hermes and Hecate, is also specifically associated with liminality[v] – thresholds, or the point beyond which a sensation becomes too faint to be experienced.

Above all the Trickster is fun. In the Technological/Materialist Landscape we are all imbued with the Trickster and ‘his’ exploits – both angelic and devilish. We partake in his exuberance, ambitions, boundary exploration, trickery, games, sleights-of-hand, personas, commercial success, communications expertise, technological genius, liminality and in his shadow-side – if not in actuality then in fantasy. We both applaud him and are appalled by him. We live vicariously through the Trickster and his shadow via entertainment – films, video games and the mass communications of television, internet, texting, smart phones, magazines and books.

Today we are imbued with the Trickster. For those whose ‘focus of perception’ is primarily the Technological/Materialist Landscape, the symbolic correspondence between the individual’s inner life and the outer world has many of the characteristics inherent in the Trickster Archetype. When “an individual’s inner life corresponds in a symbolic way to the outer objective world, the two are connected by meaning”.[vi] In other words the inner life connected by symbolic meaning to the outer world is an indication of the governance of an archetype. As Combes and Holland state:

“The themes carried by archetypes are universal: they are neither wholly internal nor wholly external but are woven into the deepest fabric of the cosmos. This notion is supported by Jung’s idea that archetypes have their origins in the unus mundus, or “one world”, which is at the foundation of the psyche and the objective, physical world. Bohm’s concept of the holographic universe offers similar possibilities. It follows, then, that myths as expressions of archetypes might be expected to portray certain aspects of the object world as well as depicting psychological realities. Indeed many of the Greek Gods represent aspects of reality that overarch both the inner worlds of human experience and the external worlds of nature and society.”[vii]


[i] See for example Paul Radin, The Trickster – A Study in American Indian Mythology, with commentaries by Karl Kerenyi and C.G. Jung (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1956).

[ii] Alan Combs and Mark Holland, Synchronicity – Science, Myth and the Trickster (New York: Paragon House, 1990), 82.

[iii] C.G. Jung, Four Archetypes (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1980),142-3. (Note: The internet throws up almost 13,000 associations between Trickster and Hermes).

[iv] Allan Combs and Mark Holland, Synchronicity – Science, Myth and the Trickster (New York: Paragon House, 1990), 82.

[v] George P. Hansen, The Trickster and the Paranormal (Philadelphia: Xlibris Corporation, 2001).

[vi] Allan Combs and Mark Holland, Synchronicity – Science, Myth and the Trickster (New York: Paragon House, 1990),  97.

[vii] Ibid, 79.